Rrestaurant owner to help victims of Russian school tragedy

Friday, September 10, 2004

A Cape Girardeau businessman with ties to Russia is donating 10 percent of all gross sales at his restaurant, Cafe Azu, until Oct. 1 to an American Red Cross fund set up to help the families and children in Beslan, Russia. Hundreds were killed there last week in a terrorist hostage crisis.

Erik Minkin is from the northeast part of Russia, not from Beslan. He said he does have relatives and friends in Beslan and served in the military with people from that region. None of his family or friends were injured in the tragedy, but Minkin said he still feels compelled to help.

"I was devastated," he said. "Children did not have a chance to go to school for a long time because of the constant conflict there. They just recently opened the schools back up, and now people are kidnapping and killing them. It's ridiculous."

Minkin said Beslan residents were forced to homeschool their children for about three years because schools had been closed. Terrorists took over the school and held more than 1,000 children and teachers hostage on the first day the school reopened.

Minkin said if anyone wants to donate, they may bring checks to Cafe Azu at 1315 Broadway, or they can donate there by credit card. Donors may also mail contributions directly to the American Red Cross at 2430 Myra Drive in Cape Girardeau. Mary Burton, executive director of the Southeast Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross, said all funds would go to Russia for assistance in Beslan.

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